From al-Qaeda, on potential targets

by on March 20, 2013 at 10:04 pm in Current Affairs | Permalink

The plan, which was sent to Bin Laden in March 2010, proposes attacks against large tunnels and bridges, dams, and financial centres. It also suggests attacking thinktanks, and names the Rand Corporation, a US government-funded research institute in California. The Love Parade, a dance music festival in Germany, is another proposed target.

The article is here, and for the pointer I thank Natasha.

Dismalist March 20, 2013 at 10:13 pm

Attacking think tanks is a great way to beat the West: They don’t matter!

Enrique March 20, 2013 at 11:29 pm

I really hope al-Qaeda doesn’t destroy a bridge or tunnel … it would suck having to take off our shoes every time we had to cross the Golden Gate Bridge or pass through Lincoln Tunnel

Ray Lopez March 20, 2013 at 11:41 pm

LOL, you nailed it Enrique. If Al-Qaeda is that stupid, it shows why they are extinct. It’s well known since WWII that ‘destroying infrastructure’ is ineffective at destroying the enemy, see below. An analogy from a chess book by Stuart Conquest, who advocated “effective tactics, not strategy” as the key to 99% of chess, meaning “go for the kill, not fancy plans”: Conquest points out that the French during the Napoleonic Wars with England used to try and disable enemy ships by destroying their sails (i.e., ‘infrastructure’) while the more successful English shot at the hull, destroying the enemy men. The UK > FR. Not sure how accurate this is (sounds dubious to me, I think the UK just had better equipment and men) but it’s a sound soundbite. And from Google: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Tidal_Wave (Operation Tidal Wave was an air attack by bombers of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) based in Libya on nine oil refineries around PloieČ™ti, Romania on 1 August 1943, during World War II. It was a strategic bombing mission and part of the “oil campaign” to deny petroleum-based fuel to the Axis.[5] It was a strategic bombing mission and part of the “oil campaign” to deny petroleum-based fuel to the Axis.[5] The mission resulted in “no curtailment of overall product output”, and so was unsuccessful.[7]. This mission was one of the costliest for the USAAF in the European Theater, with 53 aircraft and 660 aircrewmen lost.”)

Brian Moore March 21, 2013 at 12:20 am

There’s a big discussion in Albert Speer’s biography about the effectiveness of attacking factories/infrastructure, at least with 1945-era weaponry. In some cases, Allied bombs would hit German ball bearing factories and knock over the brick walls, which would actually insulate the big machines from further bombs. Allied recon aircraft would note the destroyed buildings and mark the factory as destroyed. But the workers just shoveled off the bricks and started them back up. Allied war planners calculated total German ball bearing manufacture as 0, yet new tanks with new ball bearings kept showing up to shoot at Patton.

Plus, in AQ’s case, they’re not seriously trying to destroy our physical infrastructure. They’re more hitting our… psychological infrastructure, which actually is rather weak and prone to collapse into self destructive behavior if even slightly damaged.

So Much For Subtlety March 21, 2013 at 6:46 am

Destroying Japanese infrastructure was pretty damn effective. And if bombing didn’t do likewise in Korea and Vietnam it was because their sources of supply lay beyond the political reach of the bombing.

Effects on Germany are harder to quantify if only because Germany had so much slack in the pipeline.

Andrew' March 21, 2013 at 8:53 am

One must consider the elasticity of the enemy. The main risk of TWAT (The War Against Terror) is that the infinitesimally small marketing firm known as Al Qaeda grows into something real. So, not only do you attack their individuals directly (limiting collateral damage to their potential allies and for God sakes not attacking ourselves- give them no wins whatsoever), you have to do it in a way that provides them zero martyrdom. On 9/11 they used our resources and ourselves (“let them have the planes”) against us and that’s all they can do. Just don’t let them do it.

TSA now allows the exact same size of knife that the hijackers used. So, what happened?

Alexei Sadeski March 21, 2013 at 10:24 am

> TSA now allows the exact same size of knife that the hijackers used. So, what happened?

The day after 9/11, it became impossible to hijack a plane with a knife. Regardless of the size.

Andrew' March 21, 2013 at 10:33 am

No. As soon as the passengers on Flight 92 heard something about planes flying into buildings it became impossible.

It took the government 12 years to catch on.

Andrew' March 21, 2013 at 10:38 am

There are 2 models for winning this war. (1) Citizens/LEOs respond at the point of attack: Flight 92/Shoe Bomber/etc. (2) The government captures and prosecutes individuals: what we should have done with Bin Laden.

The Anti-Gnostic March 21, 2013 at 2:06 pm

The Al-Qaeda movement is hardly extinct. They are all over Iraq, Libya and Syria, and will probably be in Jordan next.

Andrew' March 21, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Maybe we could help them set up new regimes. What could possibly go wrong?!?

misplaced trust co. March 21, 2013 at 12:39 am

Great, I’m staying in a hotel across the street from Rand Corp. HQ tonight. Hope they hold off at least tip the weekend…

Dave Barnes March 21, 2013 at 12:44 am

Would we really miss the Rand Corporation?
Couldn’t Paul Rand just replace them?

mkt March 21, 2013 at 2:59 am

Bizarre. Al Qaeda had it right the first time, attacking targets of psychological value, not industrial value. The Rose Bowl, or the Superdome during the Super Bowl. Or their original plan, to car bomb Los Angeles International Airport. That’s the one that makes me glad I don’t live in LA anymore, because Al Qaeda has a history of persistence, if the first attack fails or does little damage, as with their first LAX and WTC attacks, they’ll try again. LAX’s hideously long lines and traffic make thousands of passengers sitting ducks.

But the Rand Corp, or bridges and tunnels? They’d only cause a blip in economic output, and how many Americans have even heard of the Rand Corp?

dead serious March 21, 2013 at 8:50 am

Collapsing one of the train tunnels connecting NJ to NY would cause a pretty big problem. Or the Holland/Lincoln tunnels.

JWatts March 21, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Sure, but it would be much harder to accomplish than driving a bomb into packed college stadium with 100K people inside. Granted, they probably wouldn’t kill more than a few thousand people, but then again that’s all they managed on 9/11.

Robert Guico March 22, 2013 at 12:48 pm

It would, for maybe a week. I suspect nearby bridges would be converted to bus rapid transit-only to handle the extra traffic.

If all the bridges and tunnels were knocked out? Well, there is such a thing as a pontoon bridge…

So Much For Subtlety March 21, 2013 at 6:48 am

They better be careful. Stick to bombing the Rand Corp. No one much will mind. But bomb the Love Parade and they will annoy the Gay lobby and then al Qaeda will never work in Hollywood again!

Andrew' March 21, 2013 at 7:38 am

This is a long war about not allowing ourselves to be terrorized. We already lost the first round.

Andrew' March 21, 2013 at 8:02 am

On the commute today I was thinking about how Bryan Caplan’s Myth of the Rational Voter can be thought of as simply a division of labor fail. I’m sick of having to be a defense expert shouting into the wind simply because our government has their heads so far up their asses that their eyeballs are in the right place.

Yancey Ward March 21, 2013 at 10:26 am

They should assassinate a few central bankers if they want to create chaos.

Andrew' March 21, 2013 at 10:38 am

Or not.

Yancey Ward March 21, 2013 at 10:41 am

Yes.

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